If LinkedIn were a game of “Where’s Waldo?”---and we were Waldo---the chances of anyone finding us among the 75 million faces also on LinkedIn would be slim to none.  Why? Because, according to LinkedIn black belt Mark Amtower, our profiles are dull. And repetitive. Eep!

Amtower, a leading expert on marketing to the government, was one of the first 200,000 people to join LinkedIn when it launched in 2004. He credits David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing PR” with causing him to realize that he was “sitting on a gold mine and not using a shovel.” Amtower now regularly fields “over the transom” new business opportunities that are a direct result of his LinkedIn strategy.

“The job of your Linked In profile is to create some buzz around what you do,” says Amtower. “To do that you have to make sure it does three things: define your position in the market, substantiate that position, and provide value to your target audience.”

All right, Amtower-LinkedIn-Black-Belt-Guy, I thought, Let’s see what you’ve got. I challenged him to look at my profile (which is at 100% and includes six glowing recommendations) and point out the worst, most egregious mistake, if I promised to out it in this post.

He didn’t need to look further than the headline. “Here’s a major mistake everybody makes," he said. "Take a look at this: 'Helena Bouchez, Principal, Helena B. Communications.' That doesn’t really help you much. You’re just repeating your position. Make it descriptive. Look at mine." Amtower’s reads: “Leading expert on marketing to the government; consultant, speaker; LinkedIn black belt.” (Me: "Oh. Duh.")

Another shot follows closely, this time at my website names. Amtower said, "You need to change ‘My Website’ to be the name of your company or blog. Leaving it the default does nothing to differentiate you or pique anyone’s interest to click on the link."

He also urged me to collect as many additional recommendations as possible by seeking out people that I already am connected with and writing them a recommendation first. LinkedIn will automatically ask them to write a recommendation for me in return.

But to glean the most benefit from LinkedIn, according to Amtower, you must be pervasive. Connect with everyone you know (even a little bit) and that you also respect. Join groups, start conversations, and comment on them. Be sure to add unique value. (Read: Do not just rehash old ideas or “Me-too” it.)  Also, don’t be afraid to update your profile. LinkedIn has a powerful SEO structure; every time you make the slightest change, your page is crawled and updated by the search engines. And changes are then rolled up and sent out weekly in LinkedIn's "update" email.

These tips are just the tip of an iceberg's worth of information Amtower has to share. For additional great advice on how to (finally, really) leverage LinkedIn to be found and generate new opportunities, tune into Amtower's upcoming  MarketingProfs Web seminar, Where's Waldo?' Getting Found and Gaining New Business on LinkedIn, Thursday, Oct. 14 at 12 p.m.( Eastern standard time).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helena Bouchez is principal and owner of Helena B Communications (www.helenabcommunications.com). Reach her via helena@helenabcommunications.com or follow her on Twitter (@HelenaBouchez).